Israeli media are reporting that an Israeli judge has been reported for beating his children. Yet the social welfare system, attorney general and courts have refused for three years a request by the police to authorize a full investigation. A website dedicated to whistleblowing involving Israel’s social welfare system, reports (Hebrew) that Judge Rafi Aranyah of the Rishon LeZion court is the suspect in question. The report finds that he “hit and attacked” his children over an extended period. Two years ago the attorney general rejected a request to open an investigation and the abuse continued since that time.
The case began with a teacher who reported the judge to the social welfare agency. Arniyah then approached the teacher and expressed remorse for his behavior. The police investigation lasted a year leading to a request of the AG to pursue charges against him. That request is still pending.
Israel State radio (Kol Yisrael) reports that police officials have amassed troubling evidence against the judge which should lead to contact with his children being rescinded and to charges being filed against him.
In an effort to mitigate his behavior Aranyah attended parenting training, but the abuse of his children has continued. Maariv, and Mako have reported on this case without naming the suspect. News1 reported Aranya’s name, took the article down and then reposted it. Channel 2 TV news first reported the story (also without naming the judge).
In order to excuse his negligence, the AG announced that he’d determined from child welfare authorities that the children (despite the ongoing abuse that’s alleged) “continue to function at a high level” with no evident difficulties and continuous contact with their parents. If the nation’s highest legal officer is to be believed (and why wouldn’t you?) there have been no complaints of further abuse since those of three years ago. Further, the only consideration for him in this case is the “good of the children.” So in an effort to let himself off the hook and excuse himself from dereliction of his duties, he’s revealed that he’s allowed children to continue being endangered in the family environment, which includes a violent, abusive father. And that’s for the children’s good.
In Israel, judges enjoy immunity from prosecution comparable to that afforded MKs. Only the AG can approve investigations and prosecutions in such cases. This offers Judge Aranyah further protection and exposes his children to further violence at his hands. His judicial colleagues have afforded him further immunity: the chief judge announced that he was not aware of any investigation of any judge for violence against his children. The question is now that they know of the investigation what will they do. Will they prevent him from hearing any cases involving violence against children or parental abuse? Unlikely.
The judge has himself ruled on cases involving child abuse. In one particularly egregious one he had some trouble believing a wife and child who said the husband/father stabbed her, in the face of the abuser’s claim that his wife stabbed him. The judge extended the suspect’s detention for a whole extra day. Imagine, a man stabs his wife, endangers his children, and all the judge can muster is a single day of jail time. After which what would happen? Send him back into the home so that he could murder her next time. Can you imagine a judge accused of child abuse ruling on a case in which a suspect is accused of the same crime? It’s insane. But apparently not a major problem in the State formerly known as a democracy.
This story is yet another example of the culture of impunity which the powerful enjoy in Israeli society. Because the attorney general is a member of the same professional circles as the offending judge, his one hand washes the judge’s other and the only ones harmed are the judge’s children.
If you read Hebrew, I recommend this powerful denunciation of the judge’s abuse and Weinstein’s dithering by Arianna Melamed.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.